Introducing the Canada 5000

By Dave S. Clark

I’m very excited to announce a project that I’ve been working on for the past few months – The Canada 5000.

The Canada 5000 is part history project – recounting the famous Shell 4000 Rally races that ran across Canada in the 1960s. It’s part road trip – following various routes of the original Shell 4000 Rally, but stretching it out to 5000 miles across nine Canadian provinces. It’s part car rebuild – we’ll be driving a 1967 Volvo 122S, so I’ll be taking a non-running 48-year-old Swedish sedan and bringing it back to life so that it can make this journey. It’s part writing project – I’ll be documenting the whole experience and interviewing the drivers and co-drivers who ran the original rally. It’s part fundraiser – my partner in this project Dave Myers and I will be raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease.

I got the idea when I was reading the history of the Shell 4000 Rally. For nine years, Canada’s rural and backcountry roads played host to one of the longest and most challenging rallies of the 1960s. Professional drivers and manufacturer-sponsored teams navigated 4000 miles across Canada every spring from 1961 to 1968 and again in 1971.

It’s a rally that caught my attention as a writer and car enthusiast. For the Canada 5000, I will experience what the rally drivers of the 1960s experienced, by following the routes of several of the original rallies from coast to coast – Vancouver to Halifax. To be historically accurate, I’ll be running the rally in a Volvo 122S, the same model of car that won the race twice and was always a top runner.

This is not your average Trans-Canada road trip. If you went from our designated starting point in Vancouver to the ending point in Halifax, sticking to the Trans-Canada Highway, you would be driving for 68 hours, covering roughly 3,700 miles (6000 KM) and make approximately 33 turns. Following the various Shell 4000 routes, we’ll be driving for 144 hours, travelling roughly 5000 miles (8000 KM) and making nearly 700 turns… and that is if we don’t get lost!

On top of running the original route, I’ll be interviewing drivers, co-drivers and organizers to gather stories and anecdotes from the historic races. And of course, I’ll be writing about all of my experiences and interviews along the way.

My co-driver Dave Myers and I are also be teaming up with provincial Alzheimer’s Societies across Canada so that a great cause will benefit from this adventure as well. More details on why we chose Alzheimer’s can be found here.

I’ll be blogging about the entire experience here, but check out the website dedicated to the event at www.Canada5000.ca!

I hope you’ll join us for the ride!

1964-shell-4000-volvo
Diana Carter and Gillian Field got a bit stuck in their Volvo 122S in the 1964 Shell 4000, but made it out and finished 24th overall, 11th in their class. The Canada 5000 car is the same colour, is also a four door and will definitely be drawing some inspiration from this car! Photo courtesy of Shell-4000-Rally.org

4 thoughts on “Introducing the Canada 5000”

  1. Dave, sounds like a very exciting project! We look forward to following you and Dave Meyers in your 67 Volvo traveling across Canada!

  2. Looking forward to the launch and progress throughout your journey. Perhaps we will see you whiz by at some point. Best wishes.

    1. Hello Dave,

      Wonderful adventure. I stumbled upon your story doing a walk down memory lane via the Internet.

      I had the privilege of owning one of the Volvo Shell 4000 rally cars. In 1974 I picked up a 1965 Volvo 122S that needed some TLC and an engine rebuild. I can’t recall what I paid for it (not much), but I was quite surprised with what I purchased.

      It had the higher tune engine from the P1800S (including the water cooled oil cooler), 4 Lucas Le Mans driving lights (7″ ones), a number of skid plates to protect brake lines, etc. and a very large one under the 20 gallon fuel tank in the trunk. They took two tanks and welded them together with a massive 4″ gas cap on top in the middle – you could only access it by opening the trunk. 🙂 The car had the remains of a spot light mount on the roof and had a complete set of Smiths gauges in the dash (similar to an MGB). The Halda gauges were missing but the mount was there. It still had the Hella map light and a button on the passenger floor for the navigator to operate the windshield wipers and washer.

      I got as far as restoring the mechanicals, started on the body – it was almost done and temporarily installed a standard 122S with plans to rebuild the original engine (in effect a 123GT). We even did a 5,000 km trip to Florida in it – did the whole trip without a hiccup. Being able to drive the better part of 1,000 km on a tank was helpful.

      Unfortunately driving home from work in 1975 I was hit head on at 80 kph by a drunk driver in a 1965 Cadillac. The fact that I’m writing this is testament to the Volvo. The shoulder belt saved my life as well as my girlfriend. The impact folded the drivers door around my should and the imploding glass left me with a duelling scar and a couple of days in the hospital to recover. Interesting I managed to keep the car from going into a ditch and hitting a row of trees by somehow steering with one ball joint ripped out – I folded a beautiful Aluminium and wood steering wheel in half. Pity, I had just finished restoring it.

      I don’t have any pictures of the car anymore but hopefully the above info will help with your restoration. Great engines, the proverbial Swedish Chevrolet – bearing sizes on the crank are almost the same as a Chev V8 which explains why they live so long.

      I currently live in the Netherlands (moving back to CA in 2016 🙂 and you still see them on the roads here. All the more popular now that any gasoline powered vehicle more than 40 years old is road tax free (you pay based on the weight of your vehicle). To put that in perspective my 1981 Mercedes S Class (W126), gets hit with 1,680 Euro (~$2,000) annually in road tax. Needless to say it is off the road.

      Good luck with your adventure – I’ve been across the country on various forms of transportation on a number of occasions.

      Take care and thank you for the opportunity to reminisce and share,
      PK

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